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No. 1 Highland tackles No. 2 Timpview in semis

SHARE No. 1 Highland tackles No. 2 Timpview in semis

Though the location of the 4A semifinals changed earlier this week, one thing certainly hasn't. Whether they play at Romney Stadium, at high schools or on some dirt road in the middle of nowhere, the top-ranked Highland Rams would still be considered a heavy favorite to win it all.

"They'd have to be the favorite, they've won every game," said Timpview coach Chad Van Orden, whose second-ranked Thunderbirds face the Rams today at noon at Copper Hills High."I wouldn't see how anybody couldn't favor them."

Olympus coach Tom Larson and East's Keeko Georgelas didn't hesitate to tab their Region 5 foe as the team to beat, either.

"I think they've gotta be favored, yeah," said Larson. "We played them as close as anybody and we lost 22 to nothing. Nobody's even really challenged them."

Added Georgelas: "Obviously Highland, without a doubt. They've got it all."

Including a media savvy coach who isn't about to claim victory before a game has been played, especially since Timpview is his semifinal opponent.

"We don't have anything guaranteed. I'm not sure I wouldn't make us the underdogs against these guys," said Highland coach Larry Wilson. "They're not in the immediate media market of Salt Lake, so maybe they're not getting the publicity that they deserve."

Here's a look at today's semifinal games:

4A SEMIFINALS

Highland (11-0) vs. Timpview (8-2) At Copper Hills, noon: You can't ask for a better matchup, with the top two teams meeting each other.

Perhaps the best news for Highland is that they still have a healthy Morgan Scalley. Last year, he broke his hand and couldn't play in the Rams' semifinal loss to Orem.

"Anytime you have the majority of kids on the field who have contributed for you all year, you have to feel good about that," Wilson said. "We don't have a huge impact player, like last year, that is not with us."

The Rams don't compile statistics during the year, but Scalley is undoubtedly their big playmaker on offense and on special teams. The speedy senior can score from anywhere.

"He's every bit as good as people make him up to be," said Van Orden of Scalley. "He's so dangerous. I doubt we're going to kick him the ball."

Life would be a bit easier for the Thunderbirds' defense if Scalley were the Rams' only threat, though. Highland has used a vast arsenal of weapons in racking up almost 48 points a game. The T-Birds, however, have yet to allow a point in two playoff games.

"What's scary is when they put (running backs) Moses Mailei, Joe Katoa and Nick Sorensen in the same backfield," said Van Orden.

Timpview has plenty of punch in its pass-oriented offense as well. Quarterback Josh Covey has thrown for 1,912 yards and 20 TDs. His favorite receiver, Ethan Ross, is one of the best in the state. Ross has hauled in 39 catches for 865 yards and seven TDs. T.J. Fifita-Sitake and Adam Ashworth give the T-Birds a strong rushing attack.

Parry's Power Guide: Highland (91.5) over Timpview (70.5)

Genessy's guess: Highland.

East (7-3) vs. Olympus (8-3) At Skyline High, noon: The third-ranked Titans took it to the defending 4A state champs the first time they met this season. Olympus won that game, 26-0, at East in September. The Leopards remember that quite well.

"I'm sure the kids are probably a little bit extra motivated, I guess," understated Georgelas.

East has a healthy Sione Havili now, however, which should even things up quite a bit. Havili scored five touchdowns in the Leopards' quarterfinal win over Bonneville.

"With Havili being totally healthy, it makes us a different ballclub," said Georgelas.

The Titans are without one key player. Running back Matt Hunter, Oly's best blocking back, broke his collarbone in the quarterfinals against American Fork. That will put some extra pressure on Titan running back Tyler Scharman to have a big rushing game.

Parry's Power Guide: Olympus (66.9) over East (62.8).

Genessy's guess: Olympus.

3A SEMIFINALS

Delta (8-1) vs. Morgan (11-0) At Timpanogos High, noon: The Trojans are probably wishing they would have moved up to the 3A ranks sooner. Morgan, which has the stingiest defense in the state, could match its best season with a victory over the Rabbits.

The game features a matchup of the Littles. Morgan quarterback Jake Little is the key cog in the Trojans' offense. Adam Little, meantime, is averaging about 220 rushing yards a game for Delta.

Parry's Power Guide: Morgan (50.7) over Delta (50.4)

Genessy's guess: Morgan

Ben Lomond (7-3) vs. Ogden (6-5) At Weber High, noon: This is the surprise semifinal matchup of all four classes. Ben Lomond had one win last season. Now the Scots are one win from their first finals appearance.

Ogden, on the other hand, started the season with three losses. A victory would put the Tigers in the title game for the first time since 1966.

The Scots boast one of the state's best running backs in Emmett White. He's rushed for more than 1,600 yards. Quarterback Blake Moore leads Ogden's attack.

Parry's Power Guide: Ogden (46.0) over Ben Lomond (44.8)

Genessy's guess: Ogden

2A SEMIFINALS

San Juan (10-1) vs. Grantsville (9-2), noon: The Broncos haven't been to the finals in three years, and they'll need to find a way to slow down Grantsville's Alan Mouritsen to get back this year. Mouritsen led the defending 2A champs to a mild upset of Millard last week with 249 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

Parry's Power Guide: Grantsville (48.1) over San Juan (43.6)

Genessy's guess: Grantsville

Juab (11-0) vs. North Summit (6-5): The 2A coaches ribbed Juab coach Paul Messersmith, who is in charge of the bracketing for the playoffs, for putting Grantsville in the opposite bracket this year. The Wasps lost to the Cowboys two years in a row in the semis, so Messersmith will gladly take the joking over another early exit.

Just getting here is a victory in itself for the Braves, who were 2-5 before winning four in a row.

Parry's Power Guide: Juab (44.9) over North Summit (26.6)

Genessy's guess: Juab.